(Nov. 28) Produce Alliance LLC has filled a gap on its U.S. map.

The Nashville, Tenn.-based foodservice distribution network has added Creation Gardens, Louisville, Ky., to its network.

The agreement gives Produce Alliance 36 members.

“It’s a huge market with Louisville,” said Russ Wingo, Produce Alliance’s director of sales and marketing. “Kentucky is a good foodservice market.”

Creation Gardens president Ron Turnier said with 15 trucks the company focuses on Louisville; Lexington, Ky.; Nashville, Tenn.; and Evansville, Ind.

The company has grown rapidly in a relatively short time. Turnier was looking for something to complement his family’s Grocers Ice & Cold Storage Co. Inc., business about 10 years ago when he purchased Creation Gardens. Turnier said the previous owner had 10 accounts, two employees, a minivan and $300,000 a year in sales.

The company, which now has 54 employees, had $11 million in sales in 2005 and projects $13 million in sales this year, Turnier said.

“It’s been a wild ride,” he said. “That’s for sure.”

The expanding produce business led the company to abandon its packaged ice line, and it now limits its ice business to supplying ice sculptors. That niche business accounts for about $500,000 in annual sales.

Turnier said joining Produce Alliance gives the company greater purchasing power and access to large corporate accounts. Produce Alliance members buy more than 25 million packages of fruit and vegetables each year, according to the group’s Web site.